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In-depth reviews

Renault ZOE review

The Renault Zoe continues to lead the way as the go-to small, affordable electric car

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£28,795 to £33,295
  • Refined and relaxing drive
  • Well equipped
  • Spacious cabin
  • Not very engaging
  • Odd looks
  • Sparse interior

From behind the wheel, the Renault Zoe feels much like a traditional combustion-engined supermini – albeit a much quieter one. It would especially appeal to families with two or three cars, as the Zoe suits shorter commutes and daily errands perfectly. It's more practical than a Volkswagen e-up! and cheaper to buy or lease than a BMW i3. Not to mention the fact it'll cost you mere pennies to run.

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With an improved battery range and a competitive price, the Renault Zoe is an electric car that makes more sense than most. Constant updates mean it has benefitted from Renault's latest electric developments, and the current model for sale in dealers is well worth considering if it can fit into your lifestyle.

There are two things that you need to consider before putting a Renault Zoe on your buying shortlist. First, how far do you drive on a daily basis? This is the crucial factor when buying an electric car, and the main reason why many people think an electric car isn't for them. However, the Zoe has an electric driving range of up to 245 miles (conditions permitting), and if you only need a car to run around town on short trips, then that will be more than enough to cover most journeys.

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The second factor between you and buying an electric car is the ability to charge it. With the UK's public charging infrastructure still growing, your best bet is to charge it at home. If you live in a flat or terrace without any off-street parking, then the ability to recharge the Zoe will be difficult, but if you have a drive or garage, then you'll soon get into the habit of plugging the car in overnight to charge it, just like you would with a smartphone or other electronic device.

If you can accommodate these requirements, then you can consider the Zoe as the electric supermini alternative to petrol-powered models such as the VW Polo, Citroen C3 and even the Renault Clio. In terms of competition, the compact BMW i3 is a lot more expensive, the Vauxhall Corsa-e delivers less range, while the Nissan Leaf is from the class above. 

The Zoe is supermini-sized, and it has a few design flourishes to help it stand out from the crowd. The smooth bodywork marks it out from the Clio, while metallic blue details in the lights and badges are a signifier of Renault's electric models.

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Inside there's a stylish interior with lots of smooth surfaces, while the switchgear and infotainment touchscreen are borrowed from the Clio.

Renault ZOE vs Nissan Leaf vs BMW i3 vs VW e-Golf

The Zoe is available with two outputs from its single, front-mounted electric motor: an R110 model with 107bhp or an R135 version with 134bhp. The lithium-ion battery pack sits under the seats where a fuel tank would normally be in a petrol-engined car, and is charged via a socket in the nose.

As standard this is a Type 2 plug capable of up to 22kW on an AC connection, at which rate a full top-up will take three hours. At the other end of the scale, a 7.4kW home wallbox will take just over nine hours. DC charging via a CCS port is only available as a £1,000 option on mid- and top-spec cars. This sees an 80 per cent charge delivered in 70 minutes.

There are three trim levels to choose from - i Play, i Iconic and i GT Line. The range starts from £26,495 and includes the Plug in Car Grant (PiCG), which is a government grant up to a maximum value of £3,000, offered towards the cost of a new car with low emissions. Qualifying cars should have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km be able to travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all. To be eligible for the grant, cars must also cost less than £50,000. 

Another incentive to buy is the fact that Renault includes a free wallbox installation to help you charge up your Zoe.

This car scored 3.7 on our sister site DrivingElectric

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